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J Physiol. 2010 May 1;588(Pt 9):1527-40. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2009.181826. Epub 2010 Mar 8.

The K+-Cl cotransporter KCC2 promotes GABAergic excitation in the mature rat hippocampus.

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Department of Biosciences, PO Box 65, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


GABAergic excitatory [K(+)](o) transients can be readily evoked in the mature rat hippocampus by intense activation of GABA(A) receptors (GABA(A)Rs). Here we show that these [K(+)](o) responses induced by high-frequency stimulation or GABA(A) agonist application are generated by the neuronal K(+)-Cl() cotransporter KCC2 and that the transporter-mediated KCl extrusion is critically dependent on the bicarbonate-driven accumulation of Cl() in pyramidal neurons. The mechanism underlying GABAergic [K(+)](o) transients was studied in CA1 stratum pyramidale using intracellular sharp microelectrodes and extracellular ion-sensitive microelectrodes. The evoked [K(+)](o) transients, as well as the associated afterdischarges, were strongly suppressed by 0.5-1 mm furosemide, a KCl cotransport inhibitor. Importantly, the GABA(A)R-mediated intrapyramidal accumulation of Cl(), as measured by monitoring the reversal potential of fused IPSPs, was unaffected by the drug. It was further confirmed that the reduction in the [K(+)](o) transients was not due to effects of furosemide on the Na(+)-dependent K(+)-Cl() cotransporter NKCC1 or on intraneuronal carbonic anhydrase activity. Blocking potassium channels by Ba(2+) enhanced [K(+)](o) transients whereas pyramidal cell depolarizations were attenuated in further agreement with a lack of contribution by channel-mediated K(+) efflux. The key role of the GABA(A)R channel-mediated anion fluxes in the generation of the [K(+)](o) transients was examined in experiments where bicarbonate was replaced with formate. This anion substitution had no significant effect on the rate of Cl() accumulation, [K(+)](o) response or afterdischarges. Our findings reveal a novel excitatory mode of action of KCC2 that can have substantial implications for the role of GABAergic transmission during ictal epileptiform activity.

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